Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff
Saturday 08/14/2004 Swallows are migrating south.
I saw my first real solid sign that a change of seasons is underway. Last evening I stopped down for a visit with Rick Hamlett and we sat on his deck overlooking the Suncook River. A thunderstorm had just missed us sweeping south and east of us leaving the ground quite dry.
A cormorant appeared out of nowhere and landed in a tall white pine across the river and sat for at least a half hour. I don't think I've seen one yet on the Suncook River in the 25 years I have lived overlooking the river a mile upriver from this spot. Just before sunset I saw a small flock of swallows, probably tree swallows, in the distance. As I stared at them I realized that they were all flying in the same direction parallel to the river, all drifting south and none the opposite way. Indeed I believe they were migrating. After all swallows are insect only eaters and the first hard frost would leave them foodless so they must move south while feed is available. Despite the warmth of the evening I was surprised at the few numbers of other birds I was seeing.
Yesterday morning I stopped by Hayes Marsh, a marsh created by a dan built by the Fish and Game Department a nearly a half century ago to create waterfowl habitat. I hadn't stopped for a summer look in a couple of years or more. Every winter for two decades I have checked the wood duck nesting boxes there.
How different yesterday was. Winter brings a stark contrast to what I saw yesterday. It is desolate in the winter. The only sounds are the winds cuffing the trees and an occasional snap of the ice. There are no smells. It was the smell yesterday that I first noticed. Sweet white lily pads were in full bloom all over the marsh and the air was thick with their pungent sweetness. Even with hardly a breeze. Jays and crows called to break the constant background sound of constantly murmuring frogs. Green frogs were sounding off with a low resonance sound unlike their spring call. Pickerel and green frogs leaped along the shore as I walked, some emitting a warning peep as they launched for the safety of the water at my feet.
A family of Canada geese cruised quietly some distance away though their presence on the pond was declared by the copious droppings they had left on the mowed lawn by the dam. A few swallows darted about as well, voiceless as the geese.
Although we seem to be in the summer doldrums the pace of life will quickly pick up with the compression of daylight into fewer and fewer hours each day. The gentle meandering southward swoops of the swallows will be replaced by darting flights of flocks of birds and will soon enough be topped with the honking of high-bound geese day and night.
2004-08-10 Great Great Gogama!
2004-08-16 Needed rain and the Second Annual Suncook River cleanup.